With his push to control the preK initiative and convert the Office for Education into the Department of Education, he has steadily increased his control over issues of education in our city particularly with the use of levy funding for unending assessments of our neediest as well as funding charter schools.
Now he wants to control the district by appointing school board members to the Seattle school board.
This is called mayoral control or mayoral control lite in this case although it’s not so light. It takes a simple majority for the school board to pass proposals so having two swing votes can control quite a bit in our school district.
Speaking of abject failures, the Seattle Office of Education came out with their annual report last week to the Levy Oversight Committee that showed the students they are responsible for are not doing as well as students in Seattle Public School programs. (Start on page 22.) There seems to be more concern about the “data” and fancy graphs than actually supporting our children. That’s basically what Levy Committee member Greg Wong said in the meeting. I will have a detailed report on the levy and how funds are being handled next week.
Getting back to mayoral control of school boards, should the Governor be allowed to select state legislators? Should the mayor also be able to select city council members? If not, then why is it OK for the mayor to select school board members?
Let’s take a look at House Bill 1497 as sponsored by Eric Pettigrew. There are no additional sponsors at this time.
The critical excerpt:
…any first class school district having within its boundaries a city with a population of four hundred thousand people or more ((which)) shall have a board of directors of seven members, five of whom are elected and two of whom are appointed by the mayor of that city. A vacancy by an appointed member under this subsection shall be appointed by the mayor for the unexpired term.
Bill and Melinda Gates Enlist “Global Citizens” to Support Agenda
By Anthony Cody.
In their 2015 annual letter, Bill and Melinda Gates describe the way that technology will transform the lives of the poor. They also describe a new project that will enlist millions around the world as “Global Citizens” in support of their agenda. The overriding message that the couple would like to emphasize is one of hope. Tom Paulson wrote about the inside discussion that the Gates Foundation had with friendly media, and here is what he found out was driving the message:
“Our research has shown that people see, or at least remember, the stories that highlight waste and ineffectiveness in foreign aid more than they do the positive stories,” said Tom Scott, director of global brand and innovation at the foundation. “It’s harder to break through with the stories of success so that’s our emphasis.”
And that emphasis comes through loud and clear in this year’s letter.
Although Gates acknowledged just a month ago that the Gates Foundation’s emphasis on technological solutions to the problems of the developing world had not yielded the breakthroughs he had hoped, technology remains central to the foundation’s vision.
Well, technology in general will make capital more attractive than labor over time. Software substitution, you know, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses… It’s progressing. And that’s going to force us to rethink how these tax structures work in order to maximize employment, you know, given that, you know, capitalism in general, over time, will create more inequality and technology, over time, will reduce demand for jobs particularly at the lower end of the skill set. And so, you know, we have to adjust, and these things are coming fast. Twenty years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower, and I don’t think people have that in their mental model.
Heidey Contrera (left) with her daughter, Natalie Contrera.
Parents of 17 percent of all students at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences have opted their children out of controversial standardized tests, according to a statement from teacher and parent activists. In recent years, tests like the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) have played an increasingly larger role in judging not only student academic achievement but also whether individual teachers and entire schools have made the grade — or are deemed failures.
"It makes the children very nervous and it doesn't assess their intellectual ability," says Heidey Contrera, the mother of 8th grader Natalie Contrera. Her daughter is still working to master the English language after moving from the Dominican Republic in 2011. "She is nervous and restless, and gets a little depressed studying for the exams. Because she thought she wasn't prepared."
In Philadelphia and throughout the country, parents and teachers have complained that standardized testing has dominated too much of the curriculum, squeezing out time for non-tested subjects like art, music and civics. The tests' high stakes have also led to high-profile cheating scandals, including in Philadelphia. But Amy Roat, a Feltonville teacher and Caucus of Working Educators leader, says that parents are not being informed of their options.
"It is important for parents in PA and Feltonville to know they have a RIGHT to Opt -Out their child from standardized tests," she writes in an email to City Paper. "This information is not well-disseminated. Opt-Out is an important action for parents to consider, especially if their child has an IEP [Individualized Education Program] or they are an ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] student."
Roat says that 90 parents at the middle school have signed letters affirming that "standardized testing is against our religious and/or philosophical beliefs" and that they "will be refusing all standardized testing" for their children, including the PSSAs and other assessments.
School District spokesperson Fernando Gallard says that Feltonville's principal has not yet received any letters, but he did relay information that a "staff member" may be circulating letters, particularly among ESOL and special education students, urging them to opt out. Gallard says that might be a problem though he is not sure if it would violate any district rules.
"If we have an activist teacher in the school trying to get parents to sign this, that's very troublesome," says Gallard. "On the face of it, it would just be highly unusual and, I would say, inappropriate. What's driving this teacher ... beside his or her own belief that testing is bad? I'd be concerned that she's targeting ESOL and special ed students, given that they are the most vulnerable of students."
Stand Between the Children and Those Who Wish to Harm Them
Recently I wrote a post entitled "It's Time to Break the Rules." I intend to keep my posts over the next few months focused on the common core aligned tests that are now coming to fruition in 2015. As we reach the tipping point - breaking rules - acts of civil disobedience - are a necessity.
At our fourth annual UOO conference this past weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, Barbara Madeloni reminded us of the importance of grassroots organizing as she stated: "Look down here. That's where the vectors of power are." We must gain our strength and power from the local grassroots movements that surround us.UOO's FB page has been soaring in numbers over the last six months as the word of opt out continues to spread through the nation. As all of us spread the word of opt out we are increasing the power of the masses - we can reclaim our democracy, by beginning with the cornerstone of our democracy - our public schools.No data = no profit.
This weekend, Ira Shor reminded us of the importance of protecting our children.As an adult it is our job to stand between our children and those who wish to project harm on innocent young minds - children -who come to school to learn, to create and to express themselves in a safe environment which should allow for risk-taking.
I question how we can stand by and watch the danger of high stakes testing mandates permeate our schools, and our children - without standing up for action - without standing between our children and those who wish to project this harm upon them.
I can promise you - if anyone dared to harm either one of my boys - I would stand between that harm and my boys - and I would project the greatest amount of power I possessed physically and mentally to stop that harm from touching my children. And I would ask for help from others if need be - and I can promise you - I would win. As I say this, I must state that I feel the same way about the children within my school. The time is now for us to harness this power within our schools as we bring together parents, citizens, students and teachers to create strategy to stop the cold and hard cruelty of corporate education reform.
We must stand between the children and the harmful mandates that are being used to fail them mentally, emotionally, and physically. Colorado's suicide rate has increased 16.7 percent from 2012 to 2013 alone. We must question why countries, such as China and Japan, where high stakes testing is rampant, have such high suicide rates. We must question - what is becoming of our country? And do we care enough to stop it? Or have we been placated by the consumerism that surrounds us?
The majority of our public school children live in poverty - yet we feed them tests?
At #UOO15 in Ft. Lauderdale Krashen continued to focus on the need for nutrition, health care and books for our children living in poverty. Krashen asks - does anyone really believe that as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, that test scores will improve?
EMPATHY V. CRITICISM: HOW TO RESPOND TO THOSE WHO THINK MORE TESTING IS NEEDED TO IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION
On Sunday January 11, 2015,a group of 19 civil rights organizationsreleased a statement that outlined their shared principles regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Of the seven recommendations, there is one that has many education activists a bit alarmed by the position these groups are taking,
“Annual, statewide assessments for all students (in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school) that are aligned with, and measure each student’s progress toward meeting, the state’s college and career-ready standards…”
In 2001 ESEA was reauthorized under President George W. Bush and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was birthed. For many teachers NCLB was the starting point for testing mania that has taken over public education today. Under NCLB public schools that received Title I funding were forced to test all students each year, make public the results of those tests based on race, and make adequate yearly progress (AYP) or risk being turned into a charter school. And of course the mandate came with no funding for schools that were already witnessing declining budget allocations in many states.
Since 2001 public education has been the target of education reformers who believe that more testing especially high stakes testing, and firing teachers based on test scores is what low-income, minority, and special needs children need to succeed. Unfortunately President Obama made things worse when he instituted Race to the Top which is NCLB on steroids…more testing, more charters, and more evaluation of teachers based on their ability to increase test scores. Many teachers have publicly left the teaching profession due to the excessive testing and impossible mandates. And more and more parents are choosing to opt their children out of standardized testingwhile some teachers are refusing to administer tests they believe are not an accurate measure of what a student has learned.
Despite the growing anti-testing movement, civil rights groups like the NAACP and Children’s Defense Fund, believe that testing is needed to ensure equity and fairness for all children. This belief is perplexing to those who see the damage excessive testing has done to all children. An article by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post criticizes this decision by asking what are all those civil rights groups thinking? What is missing in the article is an attempt to find out why so many civil rights organizations believe that yearly standardized testing is the best way to close the achievement gap. For many parents of black and brown children, they saw NCLB as the first time schools were forced to admit that they were not doing a good educating their children. The mandates required each school to disaggregate the test scores by race and gender. This made it painfully obvious which schools were not producing satisfactory levels of achievement in minority students. We always knew there was an achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white counterparts, but now we can see what the gap looks like in every school. And now these schools have no choice but to make sure these students improve their scores or risk being labeled as failing and forced into an improvement plan.
On the surface this line of thinking makes sense. Before NCLB many schools could hide the fact that some groups of students were not doing well. Many parents believed that prior to NCLB some teachers and schools did not try to educate all students, especially students of color. Given the racial history of public schools this is not an outlandish conspiracy theory. Since public schools were legally mandated to end segregated schooling, disparities in achievement and equity have plagued black and brown children. Any student of color in the U.S. can describe to you at least one racist encounter they experienced in public schools. The fact is public education in the U.S. was not designed to serve children of color well. This does not mean that all teachers are racist, but it should shed light on why civil rights groups might welcome testing that appears to hold schools accountable for the education of all children.